Tell us about the early design brief
The brief called for a structure to house the engineering plant and reactivate an existing nineteenth century industrial artesian well. The structure had to sit discreetly in a designated nature reserve and meet the Olympic Delivery Authority’s architectural quality requirements.
What inspired your design concept?
The facility could have been a large single building but we broke it down into a series of cubes, which would sit as a community of sculptures in the surrounding wooded landscape.
What challenges did you face along the way?
To produce a building to suit the budget and the operational requirements of Thames Water, whilst aspiring to be being a good architectural design. It was also a challenge to design a building that would be unoccupied and rarely maintained. We chose self-finished materials such as Cor-ten and concrete, with a low maintenance green roof.
How did it feel to be involved in such an important British project?
The project was a good opportunity to demonstrate that utility buildings can aspire to be well designed and aesthetically pleasing. The building contributes to the environment in a very tangible way and looks good whilst doing it; it’s an enigmatic, thought-provoking structure.
For example, the central well head enclosure is surrounded by a perforated cage of Cor-ten. The cut-out images are based upon a quick snap shot of the surrounding woodland trees in winter taken by John Lyall.